Where Can I Find Additional Information About Ear Infections
The NIDCD maintains a directory of organizations that provide information on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech, and language.
Use the following keywords to help you search for organizations that can answer questions and provide printed or electronic information on ear infections:
What If I Forget To Take It
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember, unless its nearly time for your next dose.
In this case, just leave out the missed dose and take your next dose as normal.
Never take 2 doses at the same time. Never take an extra dose to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you. You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to remember your medicines.
How Do Ear Infections Happen
A middle ear infection usually happens because of swelling in one or both of the eustachian tubes . The tubes let mucus drain from the middle ear into the throat.
A cold, throat infection, acid reflux, or allergies can make the eustachian tubes swell. This blocks the mucus from draining. Then, or grow in the mucus and make pus, which builds up in the middle ear.
When doctors refer to an ear infection, they usually mean otitis media rather than swimmerâs ear . Otitis media with effusion is when noninfected fluid builds up in the ear. It might not cause symptoms, but in some kids, the fluid creates a sensation of ear fullness or âpopping.â
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How Is A Middle
Your health care provider will take a medical history and do a physicalexam. He or she will look at the outer ear and eardrum with an otoscope.The otoscope is a lighted tool that lets your provider see inside the ear.A pneumatic otoscope blows a puff of air into the ear to check how wellyour eardrum moves. If you eardrum doesnt move well, it may mean you havefluid behind it.
Your provider may also do a test called tympanometry. This test tells howwell the middle ear is working. It can find any changes in pressure in themiddle ear. Your provider may test your hearing with a tuning fork.
Are There Any Over
Over-the-counter oral antibiotics are not approved in the U.S. A bacterial infection is best treated with a prescription antibiotic that is specific for the type of bacteria causing the infection. Using a specific antibiotic will increase the chances that the infection is cured and help to prevent antibiotic resistance. In addition, a lab culture may need to be performed to pinpoint the bacteria and to help select the best antibiotic. Taking the wrong antibiotic or not enough may worsen the infection and prevent the antibiotic from working the next time.
There are a few over-the-counter topical antibiotics that can be used on the skin. Some products treat or prevent minor cuts, scrapes or burns on the skin that may get infected with bacteria. These are available in creams, ointments, and even sprays.
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Remedies For Inner Ear Infections
Do you need antibiotics?
If you have a bacterial inner ear infection, you may need an antibiotic. However, most inner ear infections are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Antibiotics arent effective against viral infections. For viral infections, your doctor will suggest treatment options to control your inflammation and help with your symptoms.
What treatments can help?
If you have a viral inner ear infection, your doctor may prescribe a steroid treatment to reduce inflammation or antiviral medication to attack the virus.
What are some inner ear infection home remedies?
Besides medication, there are steps you can take at home to ease the symptoms of an inner ear infection. For example:
- Keep your head upright as much as possible. Sitting or standing can help to drain the ear.
- Apply a warm compress to the affected ear to relieve pain.
- Avoid smoking and drink as little alcohol as possible.
- Reduce your stress levels, since tension can worsen symptoms.
For labyrinthitis, specifically, to combat dizziness and nausea, you can try:
- Resting in a dark, quiet place
- Drinking plenty of water, especially if your nausea leads to vomiting
- Keeping your vision focused in one place instead of glancing around at your surroundings
- Going for walks as soon as you feel you can, with someone for support until you get your balance back
Ear Infection Treatment Options
Due to the variety of ear infections, patients may be given a few different treatment options. Middle ear infections do not always require prescription medication due to the bodys natural ability to fight off the infection. Your doctor or pediatrician may recommend a method of treatment called watchful waiting. This involves two to three days of rest, drinking lots of fluids, and the use of over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. If after two to three days the patient is not improving, the doctor may write a prescription for antibiotics. Alternatively, the physician may write a prescription for an antibiotic but recommend waiting two to three days before filling in case the ear infection clears up in the meantime.
In some cases, using a tympanostomy tube may be necessary to prevent fluid from building up in the ear and to assist with relieving air pressure near the eustachian tube.
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How Does A Doctor Diagnose A Middle Ear Infection
The first thing a doctor will do is ask you about your childs health. Has your child had a head cold or sore throat recently? Is he having trouble sleeping? Is she pulling at her ears? If an ear infection seems likely, the simplest way for a doctor to tell is to use a lighted instrument, called an otoscope, to look at the eardrum. A red, bulging eardrum indicates an infection.
A doctor also may use a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a puff of air into the ear canal, to check for fluid behind the eardrum. A normal eardrum will move back and forth more easily than an eardrum with fluid behind it.
Tympanometry, which uses sound tones and air pressure, is a diagnostic test a doctor might use if the diagnosis still isnt clear. A tympanometer is a small, soft plug that contains a tiny microphone and speaker as well as a device that varies air pressure in the ear. It measures how flexible the eardrum is at different pressures.
What Is An Ear Infection
There are different types of ear infections. Middle ear infection is an infection in the middle ear.
Another condition that affects the middle ear is called otitis media with effusion. This condition occurs when fluid builds up in the middle ear without causing an infection. Otitis media with effusion does not cause fever, ear pain, or pus build-up in the middle ear.
Swimmers ear is an infection in the outer ear canal. Swimmers Ear is different from a middle ear infection. For more information, visit Swimmers Ear .
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When Antibiotics Are Used
Antibiotics are typically only prescribed for AOM.
OME and COME occur after an infection has already occurred. Antibiotics cant treat fluid buildup if theres no active infection.
An antibiotic may be prescribed for an active ear infection once your doctor has examined your ear and has determined you exhibit signs and symptoms of AOM or swimmers ear.
Frequent or recurring ear infections should also be addressed with a doctor. Due to concerns with antibiotic resistance, recurring ear infections or COME shouldnt always be treated with antibiotics.
Depending on the severity of your ear infection, your doctor may hold off on prescribing antibiotics.
Tests For Middle Ear Infection
The GP will look carefully at the inside of your childs ear using an instrument called an otoscope.
The GP might also do a tympanometry. This test measures how much your childs eardrum can move, and it can help the GP work out whether the ear is normal. Its usually a painless test that takes just a couple of minutes.
If your child has had several ear infections, or if your doctor thinks there might be a chronic infection or glue ear, the doctor might organise a hearing test. Your child can have a formal hearing test at any age.
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When Are Antibiotics Usually Prescribed
Antibiotics are normally only prescribed for more serious infections with germs .
Most common infections are caused by viruses, when an antibiotic will not be of use. Even if you have a mild bacterial infection, the immune system can clear most bacterial infections. For example, antibiotics usually do little to speed up recovery from most ear, nose and throat infections that are caused by bacteria.
So, do not be surprised if a doctor does not recommend an antibiotic for conditions caused by viruses or non-bacterial infections, or even for a mild bacterial infection.
However, you do need antibiotics if you have certain serious infections caused by bacteria, such as meningitis or pneumonia. In these situations, antibiotics are often life-saving. When you are ill, doctors are skilled at checking you over to rule out serious illness and to advise if an antibiotic is needed. Urine infections also commonly need antibiotics to prevent spread to the kidneys.
Antibiotics can also be prescribed to treat acneâ a less serious condition. For acne, antibiotics can be taken by mouth or applied directly to the skin.
How Do I Prevent An Ear Infection
If you or a loved one gets ear infections often, here are a few ways to prevent them:
Clean your hands to prevent the spread of germs
Dry your ears thoroughly after water activities
Breastfeed children for at least 12 months
Dont smoke, and try to avoid secondhand smoke
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Symptoms Of Ear Infection
Babies and small children might:
- pull or rub their ear
The most common type of ear infection is called acute otitis media .
AOM is more common in children because they have smaller eustachian tubes. Located between the middle ear and upper throat, these tubes are responsible for fluid drainage.
If this fluid doesnt drain, a buildup and infection may occur. Fluid trapped in the middle ear behind your eardrum may also cause:
Other common infections
Other common types of ear infections include:
- Otitis media with effusion . The infection has cleared up, but fluid may still be stuck in the middle ear.
- Chronic otitis media with effusion . Fluid continues to build up on a recurring basis despite the lack of infection. This chronic condition can lead to serious side effects, such as hearing loss .
- Swimmers ear : occurs in the outer ear when water becomes trapped and promotes bacterial growth in the ear canal.
Combatting The Myth Of Amoxicillin Immunity
A major complication of amoxicillin failure is that it convinces many parents that amoxicillin doesnt work for my child anymore. Once a patient has failed to respond to amoxicillin therapy, it is tempting to label that patient amoxicillin unresponsive and to exclude amoxicillin from the armamentarium available for future episodes of AOM. However, as reviewed above, it is inappropriate to attribute all episodes of amoxicillin-unresponsive AOM to resistance. In most cases, the bacteria isolated from these patients are sensitive to amoxicillin. The impact of initial antibiotic choice on outcome is minimal. One population-based study found a 12% to 13% rate of antibiotic failure as measured by a prescription for a second course of antibiotics within three weeks.35 The failure rate was similar regardless of the agent first prescribed, but the cost of the prescription was five- to 20-fold higher for the second-line agent. So, despite occasional failure, amoxicillin should remain the first choice for pediatric patients with AOM.
Patients with recurrent AOM might benefit from influenza and pneumococcal immunization, and their parents may respond to a discussion of risk factors such as cigarette smoke, pacifiers, and group day care. Most parents are more willing to accept a watchful approach to AOM therapy once they understand the risks that antibiotic roulette poses to a child in day care.
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Do Allergy Medicines Help Ear Infections
No. Allergy medicines such as antihistamines and are often used to dry out excess fluids in the body. The latest clinical guidelines from the American Academy of Family Physicians do not recommend using antihistamines or decongestants for ear infections. Using these allergy medications to treat ear infections provides little benefit and may cause more harm than good.
Can You Treat An Ear Infection At Home
It depends on the severity.
Mild-to-moderate ear infections frequently go away on their own. Fortunately, you can usually treat your symptoms at home in these situations. The CDC recommends rest, plenty of fluids, and pain relievers as the main home remedies for ear infections.
But severe ear infections cant, and shouldnt, be treated at home. You may need to take antibiotic or antiviral medications. Antibiotics and antivirals arent available OTC theyre only available with a prescription. In rare cases, your healthcare provider may also need to insert a small tube to help your ear drain.
If you need an antiviral medication, you should start taking it as soon as possible. For instance, if a virus like the flu has led to an ear infection, antiviral medications should ideally be taken within a few days of getting sick.
If you need an antibiotic, time isnt usually as sensitive. Your healthcare provider may recommend taking them right away, or they could recommend that you watch and wait before attempting to treat the infection.
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How Do I Know If My Child Has An Ear Infection
Unfortunately, young children are often unable to communicate their discomfort, forcing parents to identify symptoms via a process of deduction. Most ear infections are preceded by a normal cold. Children may have a runny nose with clear drainage that begins to turn yellow or green at the first signs of infection. Ear infections can also cause many other symptoms usually a combination of at least two of the following:
- Fussiness and irritability, often appearing suddenly
- Grasping or pulling at the ear
- Interruptions in sleep patterns
- Low grade fever, usually 101º 102º F
- Changes in balance
- Verbal complaints of ear pain
- Difficulty hearing
- Drainage from the ear, often tinged with blood or pus
What Is Middle Ear Infection
The ear is made up of three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts all work together so you can hear and process sounds. The outer and middle ear are separated by the eardrum a very thin piece of skin that vibrates when hit by sound waves.
This page deals with middle ear infection , which is the infection / inflammation of the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. This space can become blocked and filled with mucus , which can become infected, causing inflammation.
There are two types of middle ear infection:
- An acute infection that starts suddenly and lasts for a short period of time and
- A chronic ear infection that does not get better or keeps coming back. Chronic ear infection can result in long-term damage to the ear.
Sometimes gel-like fluid will remain in the middle ear after an ear infection, causing “glue ear“, a relatively common condition that is often undetected among New Zealand pre-schoolers. Glue ear can adversely affect hearing and may take several weeks to resolve.
Outer ear infection is characteristically different to middle ear infection. This is a skin infection in the outer ear canal, which may start as an itch and develop into infection causing inflammation. Sometimes referred to as swimmers ear, this kind of infection can normally be treated effectively with ear drops from your doctor or pharmacist.
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Symptoms Of A Middle Ear Infection
In most cases, the symptoms of a middle ear infection develop quickly and resolve in a few days. This is known as acute otitis media. The main symptoms include:
- a lack of energy
- slight hearing loss – if the middle ear becomes filled with fluid
In some cases, a hole may develop in the eardrum and pus may run out of the ear. The earache, which is caused by the build-up of fluid stretching the eardrum, then resolves.
Types Of Middle Ear Infections
Middle ear infections often occur after a cold virus or upper respiratory infection. They are also more common in individuals who suffer from allergies or enlarged adenoids , which can inhibit proper functioning of the auditory tube.
Bacteria, viruses, or fungi often enter through the auditory tube, which can then become swollen and blocked with mucus, preventing drainage and ventilation of the middle ear.
The main symptoms of middle ear infections include:
- Ear pain, which may be worse in the morning or cause difficulty sleeping
- Ear drainage
- Trouble hearing
A healthcare provider can diagnose a middle ear infection based on symptoms and an examination, which involves looking at the eardrum with an otoscope .
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